I could have titled this post “Memorial Day Weekend at the Beach,” but that seemed like such a boring title. This one is a lot more interesting, don’t you think?
The entire Burts family has been spending every Memorial Day weekend on the beach at Oak Island, North Carolina since 1990, making 2013 the 24th year of the tradition. My first trip was in 1997, when Charlie and I were still dating. Since we have been married, I have missed a few of the gatherings due to my work schedule. (Memorial Day is often a busy work day for military bands.) However, my children have gone on this trip every year since 2007, when SB was 2 and AB was just a little newborn at only 1 month old. So for AB’s entire life and for as long as SB can remember, this has been a regular, annual trip, and I love that they will always have these fond memories from their childhood of this family tradition.
My in-laws rent the same beachfront house every year for the 2 weeks surrounding Memorial Day, and invite any family members to make the trip for us much as they can. As you can imagine, the house gets pretty crowded from Friday to Sunday of the holiday weekend! You can walk out the back door of the house and take a 50-yard wooden walkway right down to the sand of a peaceful, quiet beach that is mostly residential. The vibe is relaxed and carefree. Nobody cares if you wear your bathing suit all day, or even your pajamas. And shoes? Well, shoes are most definitely optional!
This year the shoe laziness turned into a nightmare. We first noticed them in the bottom of AB’s feet – 3 splinters! We borrowed my mother-in-law’s nifty lighted tweezers and went to work. Of course he cried and fought us, but my husband and I working together were eventually able to get them out. Later that evening we were distraught to discover FIVE splinters in SB’s feet. Boy, removing those was a terrible experience!He is so incredibly irrational about this sort of thing that there is really no reasoning with him or calming him down. You just have to DO IT!!! It took 3 adults (thanks to my sister-in-law for her restraining help) and about 15 minutes that seemed like hours. When we were finally finished, I felt like I had just completed a Jillian Michaels workout tape. Strangely, the splinters seemed to be contagious during this trip. My mother-in-law ended up with one in her foot, and my father-in-law got two! I left their splinter removal up to them, since I felt pretty drained from what I had already accomplished, and went straight for another glass of wine.
Speaking of wine, this is my favorite piece of décor in the beach house.
One of the things that I love about the Burts family is that it’s ALWAYS wine-thirty! They have perfected the art of relaxing on vacation better than my side of the family ever could. (Sorry Millers.)
Another thing that I look forward to at the beach is flying a kite. I never had much luck getting a kite in the air during my childhood. It really takes a lot of wind, and in small-town Ohio, you can never be guaranteed a windy day. But it’s ALWAYS windy at the beach, so my chances of success are much greater. Last year I left the beach incredibly frustrated that I just could not get that stupid kite to fly, no matter how hard I tried. So this year I did what any red-blooded American would do – I bought a more expensive kite! I just like kites.
I’m not sure why I like kites so much, but I think it has something to do with a Raggedy Ann and Andy book I had as a child. It’s called Raggedy Ann and Andy: Five Birthday Parties in a Row. In the story, it’s Boy Doll’s birthday. (He certainly needs a better name, doesn’t he?) He has a fabulous time at his birthday party, playing games, eating cake, and receiving a kite as a gift. For his birthday wish, he wishes for…you guessed it…five birthday parties in a row. But each successive party seems less fun, and the cake seems less tasty. Boy Doll realizes that there is no one to play with him or help him fly his kites, because all of the other dolls are busy planning his next party. On the fifth day, he asks Raggedy Ann to not give him another party, because he has learned that what makes a birthday party special is that it only happens once a year.
Years ago I described this book to Charlie, and he found the story very sweet. Referencing it became one of our little inside jokes. When one of us was really excited about something and wanted it to come sooner or happen again, the other would joke, “Now remember – you can’t have cake and kites EVERY day.” My own copy of this book is long gone, but a few years ago my sweet husband bought me one on eBay.
There is also cake every year on the beach trip, because my father-in-law’s birthday is May 22, so naturally we celebrate his birthday while we are all there. (Coincidentally, my own father’s birthday is also May 22. What are the odds of that?) So with wine, cake, and kites, I’m a pretty darn happy girl!
My children were also very happy on this trip, partly because we let them have much longer periods of time with our Kindles and our iPods than they normally get. (What the heck, it’s vacation!) Listening to music on either mine or my husband’s iPods has become a new favorite pastime for both kids. They have both always liked music, but they both also really like watching the numbers on the counter as they listen. I realize that this a pretty stimmy thing for them to do, but I have made peace with the fact that I will never completely eliminate their stimmy behaviors, and just let it happen in controlled doses. Unfortunately, it also drains the battery on my iPod thousands of times faster than when I am listening to it during a run, because they keep the screen lit up the whole time. And, when you are trying to teach your children the difference between an “indoor voice” and an “outdoor voice,” you probably shouldn’t let them use an iPod and a pair of Bose headphones. Letting them listen to music this way gives me periods of blissful quiet time interspersed with the occasional “HEY MOMMY!!!!!! I AM LISTENING TO A RUSH SONG RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Ever since they have outgrown toddler music like the Wiggles (who we saw live three times, thank you very much) my husband and I have been trying to
brainwash our children introduce our children to our favorite 70’s and 80’s pop musicians. They know and love the Beatles, the Monkees, Chicago, Michael Jackson, Journey, Huey Lewis and the News, Hall and Oates, the Bangles (SB has a great big crush on Susanna Hoffs), the Go-Gos, and recently my husband has turned them into little Rush fans, much to his delight. It didn’t take them long at all to learn how to use an iPod. At first, they just wanted to listen to music they already knew. Then, I noticed that SB was branching out and trying new music from my iPod when he asked me some of his typical questions about a new pop artist: How many CDs does Maroon 5 have? (I don’t know. I only have one.) How many songs do they have? (I don’t remember.) How many minutes is their longest song? (I have no idea.) How many people are in Maroon 5? (Probably five, but since Ben Folds Five only has three members, I decided to look that one up on the internet for him to be sure. Yep, it’s five.) What’s the name of the man singing? (His name is Adam. He has lots of tattoos and is really, really, hot. Oh, OK, I left that last part out.)
I didn’t think much about his branching out until he started asking me the same questions about Pink. I answered a few questions before I realized, “Oh, shit! Pink uses a LOT of profanity!” So now I am undecided about what to do. I could tell them that they are not allowed to listen to certain albums, but I would have no way of policing my rule, since I am not going to hover over them and take note of every single song that they listen to. And wouldn’t that just make those albums more enticing, anyway? (Why did my husband and his sister watch the original Halloween movie and get nightmares for weeks when they were kids? Because their Mom specifically told them NOT to, that’s why!) Should I remove all of the music with profanity from my iPod? But I LIKE Pink! I like her bad-ass attitude, and I like to work out to her music. I could keep certain albums off the iPod when the kids are using it and then put them on when I am using it, but that doesn’t seem very practical, as we all use iPods several times a day. Like I wondered in my last post, is it time to get the kids their own devices? Is 8 too young to own an iTouch? Is 6? I certainly can’t buy just one – I am not willing to deal with the fighting THAT would create! At this point, I am just going to assume that they don’t really understand what the lyrics are actually saying anyway until I figure out how to handle this one!
Other highlights from this trip were many swims in the ocean, lots of writing in the sand, a dip in a pool colder than a polar bear’s toenails, a visit to a souvenir shop to buy 2 toy motorcycles, and a trip to a miniature golf course/arcade. Special highlights for the grown-ups only included not just one, but TWO meals out for Mommy and Daddy (there may have been some wine), a trip to Dairy Queen, and one movie for me and TWO movies for my husband. (This Sci-Fi Nerd Girl couldn’t WAIT to see Star Trek: Into Darkness, but decided to pass on The Hangover Part III.) My favorite time was spent all by myself, reading and sipping wine by the ocean. All in all it was a great trip, despite the splinters, and we look forward to going back next year. But next year, NO ONE leaves the house without sandals or flip-flops!!!!